Photography BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with foundation year)




Explore and experiment with photographic practices by studying our full-time Photography degree at Cambridge School of Art, ARU. Choose to study abroad for one semester, take part in photography field trips, and get support to find work placements. Be inspired by the study of photographic theory to develop your own unique visual language and become a confident, versatile photographer able to promote your work using professional techniques.

Full description


Our BA (Hons) Photography will help you prepare for work in the photographic, creative and media industries, or for self-employment as a photographer or artist.

Careers events

We hold regular career development events which you can take part in while you’re studying with us. Our recent guest speakers have included Tom Hunter, Jane Hilton, Tim Flach, Hannah Starkey, Carole Evans, Alastair Levy, Mike Crawford and Lillian Wilkie.

Work experience

We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need. They help us review what we teach and how we teach it – and they offer hands-on, practical opportunities to learn through work-based projects, internships or placements.

You can choose to take up either formal or informal work placements that will help you establish your own professional network, including opportunities such as working for magazines, galleries and photographers.

Around the university you can also take advantage of many opportunities to use and promote your skills, such as working with staff and students to photograph their events, while our dedicated student employment bureau will help you find photographic jobs both in and outside university.

Find out more about our placements and work experience, or the faculty's employability support.

Modules & assessment

Level 3 (foundation year)

  • Foundation in Art and Design
    This module will provide students with the necessary skills to begin studying at level 4 in art, design and related courses. Students will be introduced to the core skills necessary to succeed in higher education, including researching and referencing appropriately, demonstrating appropriate ICT skills, and communicating effectively verbally and in writing. Students will be introduced to practical art and design skills including developing skills of visual storytelling, image-making both in traditional and digital media, visual language and communication, formulating an independent creative response to a broad range of subject matter. Students will also be introduced to the fundamentals of design from a creative perspective, and to some of the key ideas/movements dominating art, design and culture, during the past few centuries. Students will work extensively in groups and collaboratively, with students from art and design, architecture and engineering pathways. The module is made up of the following eight constituent elements: Interactive Learning Skills and Communication (ILSC); Information Communication Technology (ICT); Composition and Style; Creative Workshops 1; Approach to Design; Critical and Contextual Studies; Creative Workshops 2; Specialist Project.

Year one, core modules

  • Photographic Practice and Context 1
    This module will introduce you to the practical and theoretical tool set in photography. You will explore light appreciation and management, creative camera control, photographic research and context to your work. You will develop analytical competence of your own practice and will contextualise your work with historic and current photographic practice. Practical workshops will introduce you to the creative control of camera functions and lenses and the appreciation and control of available light in digital and analogue photography. You will also have the opportunity to experiment with analogue black/white film and printing techniques and explore a range of alternative outcomes through appropriate risk taking. An introduction to Lightroom will give you the tools to catalogue your images and discuss the use of metadata. Research and writing workshops will introduce you to appropriate historic and contextual research sources, will discuss the relevance of social media photography sources and will develop your critical and analytical skills through the introduction of key texts. Lectures, technical presentations and workshops will develop your skill set, while group discussions and one to one tutorial will give you chance to identify individual strength and weaknesses and help you enhance you're your individual learning. You will produce weekly entries to your development and research log, which will evidence your learning throughout the semester. Your final submission will contain the Research and Development Record and a set of digital and analogue photographic prints.
  • Photography: Post Production Workflow
    This is an intensive practice-based module designed to introduce you to the fundamentals of the post production workflow, giving you the means to control and manipulate your photographic images. The module will introduce you to the fundamental principles of digital hardware, and Photoshop software. You will explore the use of digital imaging techniques and processes in a series of lectures, practice-based workshops and discussions, where you will be actively working on projects and activities, individually and in groups. The relationship between techniques, methods and ideas will be explored through assigned projects, class activities and self-guided learning. Peer group reviews and one-to-one tutorials will support the development of your work throughout the semester. Assessment is through the submission of a portfolio of a sustained body of practice-based outcomes, supporting research and development material. The portfolio will evidence your knowledge and skills in digital imaging workflow and postproduction, your level of engagement with experimentation, and your exploration of ideas and contexts.
  • Photographic Practice and Context 2
    This module will further develop your photographic skill set. You will develop an awareness of how your own photography can contribute to and critically reflect upon a range of genres in photography. You will explore the relationship of photographic influences to your own practice. You will explore single and multiple studio flash lighting in a range of genres including still life, fashion and portraiture. You will explore the use of medium format cameras and discuss the appropriate use of different camera formats. Practical workshops will introduce you to the creative use of analogue colour printing and scanning negatives and produce colour analogue and digital prints from negatives. You will produce weekly entries to your development and research log, which will evidence your learning throughout the semester. Research and writing workshops will introduce you to a range of photographic genres and will discuss how contextual research influences current practice. You will produce a critical response to a photographer’s work by analysing their practice and responding creatively to your findings. Lectures, technical presentations and workshops will develop your skill set, while group discussions and one to one tutorial will give you chance to identify individual strength and weaknesses and help you enhance you're your individual learning. Your final submission will contain the development and research log, final prints, evidence of contextual research.
  • Photography: Multimedia Practice
    In the rapidly changing field of photography, this module provides an introduction to using screen and time- based digital media as an integral part of practice in photography. You will expand your existing practice through the experimental use of a variety of digital media and processes from the still to the moving image and audio. The module will initially focus on developing a project through the acquisition of a variety of visual and audio material in camera and a method of conceptual inquiry. You will acquire technical knowledge and develop skills in specific areas of postproduction through a series of practical workshops, in order for you to creatively control, manipulate and experiment with media. This will include narrative, non-narrative and interactive approaches. You will also consider the mode of address of your work by exploring presentation methods and the contexts in which your work will function including screen, on-line and physical location. An exploration of the historical and contextual aspects of the screen and time-based image will complement and enrich your practical work. Through a series of lectures and workshops you will explore how sequencing and interactivity can be used to convey meaning, drawing on a range of examples of work by professional practitioners. You will have access to technical resources during timetabled taught and self- guided sessions. Your research and progress is evaluated through a combination of tutorials, self-assessment and peer group reviews, which provide an arena for critical exchange and feedback. Formative assessment will take place at specified points throughout the module. Summative assessment will take place through the submission of a portfolio that will include final outcomes in a screen-based / time-based form and include relevant research and development material as a response to assigned objective(s). You will also be required to submit a 1,500 word analysis of the production and presentation approaches of a film or video, with reference to your own methods and approaches.

Year one, optional modules

  • Introduction to Photographic Studio Practice
    This module provides an introduction to using continuous and available light sources for different photographic genres. Through a series of lectures and workshops you will develop your understanding of the effect of light on different surfaces and how to model light to emphasise texture, shape and form. Working in groups you will use continuous light to explore the creative potential of specialist still life studio equipment, and experiment with low and high-key lighting in portraiture. An exploration of historical and contemporary studio photography will complement and enrich your practical work, including study visits to museums and art galleries to explore the use of lighting in art historical sources. You will have access to technical resources during timetabled taught and self-guided sessions. Formative assessment will take place at specified points throughout the module. Your research and progress will be evaluated through a combination of tutorials, self-assessment and peer group reviews, which provide an arena for critical exchange and feedback. Summative assessment will take place through the submission of a workbook containing experimentation, relevant research and development material, short written summaries of processes and techniques. You will also submit a portfolio of final outcomes.
  • English for Study 1
    This is the first in a series of English for Study modules for international students only. It aims to support you if you are at or below IELTS 6.0, or equivalent, in your academic writing/discussion abilities. It will develop both your grammatical accuracy and your ability to extract key points from a variety of spoken texts. You will need to demonstrate increasing awareness of essay planning and the importance of summary writing and referencing skills in academic essays. your discussion skills will also be developed, ensuring you are able to contribute in both seminar and tutorial discussions. The module, taught over two hours per week will consist of a variety of activities including group debates, and discussions, presentations, listening and comprehension exercises from authentic audio, and audio-visual material of academic lectures. You will also be guided in independent learning, via the Language Centre, Library and Language Laboratories, through a wide range of media resources including newspapers and academic journals, videos, and internet. You will be assessed through coursework, which may take the form of academic summaries, research projects, in-class test, reports or an oral presentation.

Year two, core modules

  • Photographic Portfolio Practice
    This module sets out to expand your individual practice through the introduction of a wide range of digital and analogue processes and skills. The digital medium format, analogue medium format and 5/4in cameras are introduced along with complex studio and on-location lighting. You will further develop your analogue and digital post production skills. With tutorial support you will define a critical path through the range of technical possibilities presented. You will research and develop an ambitious body of work,reflecting critically on the process at significant stages throughout the project’s development. The module emphasises the importance of researching and developing an individual visual language, which can explore a range of complex techniques, subject matters and photographic genres and will lead to a carefully considered published photographic sequence as a multimedia piece and/or photographic book. Practical workshops explore new techniques to help build upon your existing skills base. A series of lectures introduces photographers who work in with sequenced bodies of work, methods and approaches to sequencing photography, layout of publications and the process of self-publishing. You will develop skills in project planning and time management. You will work towards formative interim and summative final assessment deadlines. Group critiques and individual tutorials will develop and shape your project. Active contribution to class discussions and peer to peer critiques is expected. Final assessment includes a research and development journal contextualising your practice and documenting the project and your final publication. This module will support your employability by giving you an insight in a wide range of professional practices.
  • Photography: Professional Development
    This module will equip you with greater awareness of the importance of professional skills to your career development, how to think strategically about professional development, and how to adopt best practices to applying it to your own practice. You will focus on the acquisition, development and review of key professional principles, strategies and best practices. Through a pragmatic approach grounded on established literature, you will cover the complementary dimensions of professionalism such as public speaking, interviewing, networking, public profile (CV, portfolio, website); rights, permissions and legal requirements, project planning and management. You will take part in workshops, mock interviews (with a peer-assessment component) and presentations, and also hands-on preparation for a photographic competition. Your assessment will comprise a portfolio of professional practice documentation, engagement with professional practice and a written report about this experience.
  • Debates and Practices
    On this module, you'll explore the links between critical studies and practice, enriching your knowledge and developing your articulacy about your specialism, as well as drawing on wider perspectives in relation to your own work. You will focus particularly on debates about contemporary practice. Your studies will be seminar-based and, where appropriate and possible, held in the studio. In discussions, you'll engage with theory and history alongside your own developing ideas about contemporary production, with an open agenda that will respond to current events, work and interests.

Year two, optional modules

  • Identities
    How do we define ourselves? How do we define others? How do images perpetuate stereotypes, and how do artists and film makers unpick these and explore alternatives? How fluid, open and multiple are our identities? These questions are at the root of this module. It’s an opportunity to explore identity-formation from psychoanalytic, sociological or philosophical perspectives. You may select the image of the artist or film maker as a topic, exploring notions of body image and role-play, as well as the connections between memory and history. Gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationhood, class are all important aspects of identity that you will consider, while feminist theories and postcolonial studies are major contributions to debates about identities. How have artists and film makers explored these issues? This is an opportunity for you to decide on a focus of study that links into your own interests in the studio.
  • Business for the Creative Arts
    This module will introduce you to the practical tools needed to set yourself up in business in the creative arts, as a company, a partnership or a freelancer. You'll explore a sector of the creative industries, identifying potential opportunities within it and producing a basic business plan. Your emphasis will be on self-reflection, innovative thinking and communication skills, while the subjects that you'll cover include: the creative industries; developing and analysing a business idea; types of business model; assessing your market; ideas behind marketing; basic accounts; tax and legal issues; and planning for start-up. You'll be asked to translate these into practice by applying them to your own ideas, which will then become part of your own business plan. The module will be delivered through lectures, seminars, student presentations, critiques and workshops. Your formative assessment will involve presentations, while the summative assessment will be based on your critical evaluation of employment opportunities in a sector of the creative industries and your portfolio of work, including a business plan or employment strategy and supporting documents.
  • Text and Image
    This module is specifically designed to encourage you to explore interactions between text and images, alongside the development of a range of creative outcomes. Harnessing writing as a purposeful act relevant to your own practice, the indicative content is addressed through a series of seminars and workshops. As well as developing a specific visual project, you will have the opportunity to engage in experimental writing approaches, which are intended to provide you with starting points for your creative practice. In the contemporary world of art and design, the practitioner is often called upon to accompany creative outcomes with a variety of textual elements, and this module will help you enhance these creative and critical writing skills. Assessment involves the development of a visual project combining text and image, which may be relevant to your studio specialism. In addition to this, you will write of a critical rationale, relating to the text and image interactions evidenced in your visual project, as well as shorter pieces of experimental writing developed alongside the visual project.
  • Site-specific Work
    On this module you’ll take part in a project geared towards researching a specific site and finding ways and means of interacting with that site. Your previous experimentation from other modules (for example Installation Practice) may also be relevant for this module, but these are not pre-requisites. The given site will most likely be the grounds of the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, and you’ll be encouraged to think of ways of relating and researching ideas relevant to the site. This might include reflecting upon the physical locations within the grounds, or thinking more obliquely about the kinds of practice and research that takes place within the Institute itself, and the corresponding issues of 'space' and 'place' in connection with these issues. You’ll receive tutorial guidance that focuses on your ideas and research and aims towards a practical outcome or intervention within the site, as well as critiques of your projected pieces at earlier stages.
  • Printmaking: Photographic Processes
    On this module, you’ll explore photographic print processes appropriate to your specialist discipline and individual research interests. Photographic and digital processes now form a major element of contemporary print practice, enabling artists and designers to explore a wide range of creative possibilities. Integration of digital media to such processes continues to offer potential for further innovation, particularly in combination with media such as screen-print and photo etching. Through studio research, you’ll tests and develop your proposed ideas and explore experimental strategies towards a range of media as a means of articulating visual themes and ideas informed by practice and theory. Risk taking, through speculative and experimental investigation of print media will therefore play a significant role in the formulation of your learning. You’ll have access to workshop resources outside of specified taught hours through allocated 'open access' slots. Formative assessment of your progress will take place at specified points through individual tutorials and group critique, while the summative evaluation will consist of a portfolio presentation at the end of the module.
  • Contemporary Digital Approaches
    You’ll explore new possibilities in image creation and articulate ideas about them through this integrated approach that uses digital imaging software in conjunction with fieldwork and research. You'll be expected to have at least a basic knowledge and level of skill in Photoshop at the outset and you'll also generate all your own source images through fieldwork and/or photography studio practice. The emphasis throughout the course will be on the integration of technique and practice to explore ideas and concepts. By examining the imaging workflow, from capture through to output, you'll experiment with different aspects of image construction to enable a clearer understanding of the processes and skills involved. There will be assignments and technical workshops to illustrate these points, as well as tutorial guidance to help develop your practice and research. You'll share your assignment outcomes and research with the rest of the class through participation in class crits. Your assessment will consist of a portfolio of practical work together with research and development journals.

Year three, core modules

  • Specialised Experimentation and Practice in Photography
    This module will allow you to further develop and refine your photographic practice in preparation for the major project and final degree show. You will consider the crucial importance of experimentation with shooting, editing, postproduction and presentation methods (i.e. as a wall piece, publication, installation, or through the incorporation of either video and/or sound), and will be encouraged to seek a range of creative solutions to practical problems, supported by group and one-to-one tutorials with tutors and visiting lecturers, and build networks. You will also be encouraged to discuss ways of publishing and/or presenting your work on and off line, considering the implications of this in terms of both audience and curatorial perspectives. Experimenting autonomously using the facilities and workshops available to you, you will be expected work at a high level, acutely aware of your materials, processes, and level of skill; able to adapt and work consistently towards refining your practice. At the beginning of the semester, you will provide a written proposal outlining your line of enquiry. You will create a workbook charting your experimentation and development of your practice, referring to a range of inspirations. Your assessment will consider the depth and width of your practical experimentation and the quality of your development book. The final part of your Personal Development Planning will be included in this module.
  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.

Year three, optional modules

  • Research Project
    The Research Project will foster your independent study with the guidance of a tutor. You'll devise your own project that will reflect on/co-ordinate with/enhance your own studio work and interests, encouraging your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Seminars will give you a forum to learn from each other's research. You will also be supported by individual tutorials with a member of staff. The Research Project may include a variety of relevant topics, including reporting on your own work experience. You can illustrate it with photographs, drawings or video, discussing your approach with your assigned tutor. (30 credits)
  • Research Assignment
    The Research Assignment module will foster your independent study with the guidance of a Supervisor. You will negotiate a topic with your supervisor, and devise your own project to reflect on / co-ordinate with / enhance your studio work and interests, relying on your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Classes will provide a forum for all students to learn from each other's research, but you will also have opportunities for individual tutorials with a member of staff. Your Research Assignment may be illustrated with photographs, drawings, and video. You will be assessed by way of a 3000-word written assignment. (15 credits)
  • Working in the Creative Industries
    Gaining work experience enhances your employability, and work based learning offers you the chance to gain industry knowledge, skills, contacts and networking opportunities. This module gives you the opportunity to explore a working environment relevant to the industry you hope to build a career in. The module will encourage your self-managed learning, and aims to develop your personal organisation, team-working, and networking skills, thereby increasing your self-reliance and confidence. You can use the experience as a basis for directing and focussing your career plans, as well as inspiration for your final year projects. In association with your module tutor, you will identify, negotiate and agree with an employer (or employers) the terms of your placement, ensuring that the module learning outcomes can be achieved. You will also create a reflective report on your work experience, including: the application procedure you have conducted (CV, letter and portfolio); market and background information on the employer; your role(s) on the placement(s); an academic and vocational analysis; skills and experiences (opportunities, advantages, constraints, aptitudes and interests). You will also be asked to include a workplace diary that logs activity and supports an analysis of the learning achieved. On completion of the placement, the employer will be asked to complete a Student Feedback package. The work placement(s) may be carried out in a variety of settings depending upon your requirements, areas of interest and availability of opportunities. The minimum period of the placement will be 100 hours, and you can undertake more than one placement for the module.


For a full breakdown of module options and credits, please view the module structure (pdf).

Modules are subject to change and availability.

You’ll demonstrate your learning through both written and practical (portfolio) work, helping to prepare you for creating your own professional photography portfolio.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

At Cambridge School of Art, we combine the traditions of our past with the possibilities afforded by the latest technologies.

Using our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond, we nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking to empower the makers and creators of the future.

Our academics excel at both practice and theory, making a real impact in their chosen fields, whether they are curating exhibitions, designing book covers or photographing communities in Africa. They are also regularly published in catalogues, books, journals and conference papers, their research classed as being of ‘international standing’, with some elements ‘world-leading’, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Study abroad

You can apply to study abroad for one semester, and get funding to help you cover the cost

Field trips

Take part in our annual field trip to get experience photographing overseas locations. Our recent trips have included Venice and Prague.


Every year you’ll have the chance to enter a number of national and international competitions, which our students have regularly won or been shortlisted for, as well as those organised by Anglia Ruskin, such as the Eaton Portrait Prize and Sustainability Art Prize.

Specialist facilities

You can practice your photo-processing work in our black, white and colour darkrooms with enlargers that cater for 35mm, medium format and large format film, as well as three fully-equipped daylight and artificial light studios.

You’ll also have access to our computer laboratories equipped with Apple Macs, A4 and A3 flatbed scanners, 35mm, medium format, large format scanners, and printers capable of calibrated wide format up to 44in width.

We have a large stock of photography equipment that you can borrow, including digital cameras (DSLRs and medium format), large format cameras, lenses, light meters and lighting kits.

You can access all of our industry-standard facilities and get full training from a dedicated team of technical officers.

Find out more about Cambridge School of Art's facilities

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2020/21 (per year)


International students starting 2020/21 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

Additional costs

Costs depend on the direction and ambition of your work. We suggest budgeting approximately £250 for materials and work-books in the first year.

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

You can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

International students

You must pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit or sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Portfolio review

It is essential that you send us a digital portfolio for review.

For full information on how to prepare and submit your portfolio please visit our cambridge school of art portfolios page.

Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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